LA JUNTA, Colo. (AP/CBS4) – A manhunt across southeastern Colorado that involved the Colorado National Guard and dozens of law enforcement officers has resulted in the recapture of three of four inmates who had escaped from the Otero County Jail by overpowering guards and dashing to freedom in a rail yard, a sheriff’s official said Wednesday.
Otero Counter Undersheriff Ken Kimsey identified the man still at large as Angel Castrejon, 23, who was facing drug charges and had escaped before from the same jail.
Those back in custody were identified as Curtis Apodaca, 21, suspected of motor vehicle theft; Malcolm Hoffert, 22, suspected of motor vehicle theft; and Johnny Nunez, 30, suspected of burglary and forgery. All four had been awaiting court appearances.
Kimsey said that because the hunt for Castrejon was continuing, with officers on foot and in vehicles, he could say little about the recapture of the others. He said they were found in the La Junta area and that no one was injured in the recapture.
The Otero County Sheriff’s Office said two of the men rushed an officer at the 34-bed jail Tuesday night and then let the two others out of another cell. The four then overpowered another officer and headed across U.S. Highway 50 into a rail yard. The deputies suffered minor injuries.
The jail, in a one-story sheriff’s office building, is just blocks from La Junta’s rail yard, which includes an Amtrak station.
La Junta schools were placed on modified lockdown.
During his previous escape in 2013, Castrejon was being taken out of his cell to be checked on a medical issue and was able to flee through a garage door, according to the sheriff’s office. He was arrested four months later in El Paso, Texas.
CBS4 had previously reported on Nunez as a career criminal with a history of escape. Last year a judge granted Nunez a furlough from jail to say goodbye to his family. Nunez never returned and was on the run for eight months until he was captured.
Otero County District Attorney Jim Bullock objected to Nunez’s furlough.
“Given the fact that … the number of cases he had resolved by the plea agreement, and one involved running from law enforcement,” Bullock said. “It certainly made sense to us (he might run), that was one of the considerations.”
A UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter with a crew of four was sent from the Army National Guard Aviation Support Facility on Buckley Air Force base in Aurora to help in the search during the day, then later returned to base.
Others assisting included the La Junta and Rocky Ford police departments, the Colorado Department of Corrections, Colorado State Patrol and the Bent County Sheriff’s Office.
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